Selecting the right ladder height may not be as simple as you  think. There can be quite a difference between the actual measured height of a  ladder and its usable length. With step ladders you should never stand on the  top two rungs for safety reasons. Extension and straight ladders require that  you stay off the top three rungs. Since the distance between rungs generally  measures 1′, that eliminates 2′ to 3′ of height. Additionally, extension  ladders require anywhere from 3′ to 5′ of overlap, depending on their length.  If they are being used to reach a roof or platform, they should extend 3′  beyond the surface. Since straight and extension ladders lean against a  supporting structure, the angle they are placed at will further reduce their  reach. Remember to take all these factors into account when calculating what  size ladder you will need.

  • Step ladders should measure no more than 20′ in height
  • Extension ladders should measure no more than 60′ in height
  • Straight ladders should measure no more than 30′ in height
  • Position straight and extension ladders at an angle, with the bottom placed a  distance of approximately 1/4 of its total length away from the supporting wall


Every year thousands of people are injured in falls and other  accidents involving ladders. The vast majority of these incidents are the  direct result of unsafe and improper usage. The best way to avoid an accident  is to observe a few simple safety rules. OSHA regulations, which were designed  to prevent injuries on the jobsite, offer an excellent safety program that is  equally applicable at both home and work.

Always face the ladder and use both hands when climbing

Carry tools and other materials in a belt, apron or pouch

Use a rope and bucket to pull up large, heavy or awkward items

Do not lean off the side of the ladder as it may tip

Never use a ladder when there are high winds<

Make sure step ladders are completely open and hinges are locked

Always double check that locks are secure on adjustable and extension ladders

Regularly inspect ladders for loose rungs, dents, cracks or sharp edges

Never use a ladder that has been damaged or appears unsafe

Ensure that the ladder is on a solid, level surface

Do not use ladders on ice or snow

Purchase a ladder that is appropriately rated to handle typical weight loads  and usage

CLICK HERE to learn more about ladder safety.